Facing defections, Senate GOP leaders delay health care vote


Senate Democrats are warning supporters that the fight to repeal and replace ObamaCare isn't over even after Republicans delayed a vote on their bill until next month.

"We're still working toward getting at least 50 people in a comfortable place", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump, badly in need of a legislative victory in his stalled agenda, was to have met with Republican senators Tuesday afternoon to lobby for its passage. An aide to the senator said Rubio's staff invited staff from the offices of Scott - as well as the Florida speaker and Senate president - to Washington to be "embedded" in Rubio's office for the week and work with Rubio's team to analyze how the bill will affect Florida.

McConnell's efforts to advance the bill have been hindered by intra-party opposition to the plan. John Thune of South Dakota told reporters later. "I think this is a good move on the part of leadership". It was short of support heading toward a critical procedural vote on Wednesday, and prospects for changing that are uncertain.

Asked later if she needed more opioid funding in the bill, Capito said that was just one of the issues.

"I have not heard back from the leadership with any suggestions for changes", Collins said.

The Republican health bill would repeal and replace President Barack Obama's health law. With unanimous Democratic opposition, the bill could only afford to lose two Republican votes and pass, and at least five GOP senators were opposed to beginning debate on the bill.

The decision came a day after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report concluding the Senate's health care plan would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026 compared to the current law.

"We are going to continue the discussions within our conference on the differences that we have, that we are continuing trying to litigate", McConnell said during a brief press conference on Tuesday.

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If more than two GOP senators defect, the bill will fail.

The GOP could still win skeptical senators over with amendments.

Sens. Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are fellow moderates who've raised concerns about the Senate health bill for a variety of reasons. She tweeted that she favors a bipartisan effort to fix Obama's statute but added, "CBO analysis shows Senate bill won't do it".

Another opponent, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, said it was worse to "pass a bad bill than to pass no bill". Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Sen. Moderate Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said Friday he'd oppose the procedural motion without alterations.

The CBO says the legislation would result in 22 million more Americans uninsured by 2026.

Citing the CBO score, Schumer described the bill as "rotten at the core", and said: "Until Republicans abandon that rotten core, they're not going to succeed in winning the American people over and it makes them much less likely to get the bill done".

It eliminates the "individual mandate" that requires people to buy insurance or pay a financial penalty.

It would let states ease Mr Obama's requirements that insurers cover certain specified services such as substance abuse treatments. It would also decrease the number of Medicaid enrollees by 15 million. Standing next to Nevada's popular Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, Heller said he could not support a bill that that "takes away insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans". Estimated average premiums for benchmark plans for single individuals would be about 20 percent higher in 2018 than under current law, about 10 percent higher in 2019 and then drop to about 30 percent lower in 2020.

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